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Judges fear their phones are tapped: Kejriwal

NEW DELHI: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal created a flutter on Monday by claiming that there was widespread fear among judges that their phones were tapped and termed it a serious attack on judicial independence.

The allegation invited a prompt denial from law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who cited his past portfolio as minister of communication to say "with full authority that pho nes of judges are not tapped".

Speaking at Vigyan Bhavan, where PM Modi, Chief Justice of India T S Thakur, Chief Justice of Delhi high court G Rohini and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung were also present for golden jubilee celebrations of the high court, the Delhi chief minister said he had "overheard judges telling each other that they should not talk on phones because they could be tapped". There are opportunities when you get to talk to judges, and during one of those, I heard two judges telling each other not to talk over phone because the phones are being tapped. When I said this cannot happen, they said from the Supreme Court to the high courts and district courts, phones of judges are being tapped," the CM said.

"I don't know if this is true, but if it is true, this is very dangerous. In such a scenario, all judges can be influenced. Even if a judge has indulged in any wrongdoing, even that doesn't justify phone-tapping. Other means can be used to gather evidence against them," Kejriwal told a hushed audience. "Independence of judiciary is paramount. If true, phone tapping would be the biggest assault on this independence".

Speaking later, law minister Prasad assured the audience comprising former and present SC and HC judges, and lawyers that the Modi government was committed to an independent judiciary . "Right from Prime Minister Modi to other ministers like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and myself, we have fought against the Emergency for upholding three freedoms -individual, media and judiciary .So as the law minister, let me categorically declare the Modi government's commitment towards 
independence of the judiciary. It is absolute and complete. 

The independ ence of judiciary is unim peachable and uncompromising," Prasad added. The CM also waded into the controversy over the delay in judicial appointments, slamming the Centre for rising vacancies in courts. "The government should clear the appointment of names within 48 hours of them being sent by the collegium. The executive can't have any say in appointment of judges, it has to be completely independent. Even 0.001% of executive interference is not good for judiciary . Since executive is very, very powerful, an independent judiciary is paramount for keeping checks and balances," he added.

He further pointed out that delay in clearing names fuels rumours. "There are rumours that only because certain minister's (preferred) men will not be given the opportunity , the Centre is not implementing the recommendations...and similar other rumours.These rumours are dangerous for democracy ," he cautioned.

Since it is the serious matter of judiciary court should take this matter suo moto seriously and issue notice to Crazywal to produce evidence, if he doesn''t produce any evidence he should be punishe... Read More

The AAP member also subtly touched upon the recent Delhi HC verdict clipping his powers and giving LG primacy in running Delhi. "If any action of the executive snatches the power of the people, if any judicial interpretation of the Constitution hands over power to one person, that is not good for democracy ."

The home ministry strongly denied allegations of tapping of phones of judges."There is no truth in these reports. These reports are baseless and unfounded," a ministry spokesperson said.

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